Annapolis Symphony Orchestra
José-Luis Novo, conductor
Robert DiLutis, clarinet
Clarinetist Benny Goodman, the “King of Swing”, had wide-ranging musical interests and wanted to secure a place in classical music as well. He commissioned a number of well-known composers to write for him, including Béla Bartók (Contrasts) and Paul Hindemith (Clarinet Concerto). In 1947 he commissioned Aaron Copland for a work for clarinet and orchestra, giving him free rein and making no demands on what he should write. Copland, who had long been an admirer of Goodman said that “I never would have thought of composing a clarinet concerto if Benny had not asked me for one.”
The Concerto finished in 1948, is an unusual work, consisting of two movements connected by a long, a spectacular cadenza. The decision to use jazz idiom was Copland’s, inspired by Goodman’s playing. Its form is similar to Copland’s jazzy Piano Concerto of 1926. Despite its title, which suggests a prominent role for the harp and piano, Copland concentrates on the clarinet, weaving the other two instruments into the orchestral fabric.